It’s a miserable rainy day, the kind where thoughts of leaving the comfort of your own home seem almost impossible. But we did, and as my friend’s car attempts to battle up the hill on the outskirts of Cork city, I peer through the window trying to make out any forming shapes on the horizon.
Reaching our destination in one piece, we turn the corner into the Montenotte Hotel and I have no idea as to the sheer vibrancy that awaits me inside this grey exterior.
Strolling through the doors, I’m immediately struck by a burst of colour in the form of two painted dogs and a light-up “HI” sign. This is not what I had expected but I love it.
The unique nature of the hotel is immediately evident, with my eyes wandering from the wooden sculptures to the bookshelf full of aged hardbacks and the statues of dogs in an array of bright colours.
There’s just the right amount of colourful splashes without it being overwhelming or distracting from the reception area and the rest of the décor.
The hotel’s quirky style continues to capture my attention as we stroll to our room, taking a moment to appreciate the unusual mirrors on the wall, each appearing to have a small purple creatures infused into the glass.
Our Executive Room at the Montenotte hotel is a beautifully striking contrast between subtle greys and bursts of yellow.
As I munch on the complimentary fruit, a staple feature of the hotel’s executive rooms, I examine the cityscape artwork hanging on one wall.
Its black and grey colouring helps to create an industrial city vibe, while a smaller version of the colourful dogs in reception sits proudly on the desk, infusing the room with vibrant splashes of colour.
The mix of modern and old-style furnishings enhances the hotel’s unique vibe and I find myself momentarily wishing I could switch out my mobile with the room’s corded vintage telephone – heaven!
The Montenotte has recently undergone a complete refurbishment and they have added some new features, including an in-house cinema, perfect for those rainy evenings.
Dinner at the Montenotte Hotel takes place in the Panorama Bistro and Terrace. A beautiful big space, the atmosphere is just electric. It’s Friday night and the restaurant is completely booked out, with my waiter telling me that the restaurant is packed every night.
The Montenotte Hotel appears to cater to every type of guest, from young jittery couples on a special date to groups of friends on a night out, families and a 60th birthday party.
No group felt out of place and all blended perfectly into the ambience of the restaurant, with the talented pianist creating a relaxed atmosphere.
Oversized light bulbs hang from the ceiling, adding a contemporary feel to the room. Throughout our evening in the Panorama Bistro & Terrance, a pianist expertly plays a number of upbeat pop tunes, with Ed Sheeran, Queen and Abba all making the list.
The music slows pace as the evening draws on, with excited chatter turning to more soothing tones. The waiter told me that this particular pianist gets a round of applause every night he plays.
The restaurant’s fun atmosphere never once faltered, with every party enjoying the food, drink, music and scenery. This is clearly a place that caters well to all needs.
Moving to food and we were eating from the hotel’s inclusive set menu, which is on offer to many guests staying a night at the hotel.
I chose the Duck Liver & Orange Pâté to begin with. Drizzled with Cognac, the flavours of the Apricot Jam, Orange Zest and Winter Berries complimented each other nicely.
Meanwhile, my friend selected the Goats Cheese Salad with Roasted Beetroot and Toasted Pine Nuts. A lovely, colourful dish, goats cheese and beetroot are always a winning combination, with the pine nuts adding a welcome crunch to the dish.
After enjoying our main course which consisted of Stuffed Pork with Mashed Potatoes and Vegetables and a Pan Fried Chicken Supreme with Celeriac Mash, Jameson & Wild Mushroom Sauce, we sip our glasses of Marlborough Sun Sauvignon Blanc as the sun slowly sets over Cork and the city lights flights.
Taking in uninterrupted views of the city, we decide to finish off our evening dining with a sweet treat. I dig into a staple on Irish dessert menus, the Montenotte Sticky Toffee Pudding with creamy Butterscotch Sauce and Vanilla Pod Ice Cream.
My friend instead choses a Mint Cheesecake for a bit of creamy freshness. Touches of Chocolate and Raspberry Syrup help this dessert go down a treat.
Following our meal, we venture out into the cool night air to fully absorb the magnificent view of Cork city. I love a good view and this is one is pretty spectacular.
My friend, a Cork native, is thoroughly impressed with how well the city scrubs up from our high vantage point at The Montenotte Hotel.
As no view is complete without a cocktail in hand, we decide to order some from the bar. Expertly mixed by the staff, who happily chat away to us about the cocktails on offer.
While perusing the menu, I notice The Merchant, the Montenotte Hotel’s house cocktail. Delicious and perfect for the summer, the cocktail contains Jameson Black Barrel, Pomegranate Juice, St Germaine Elderflower Liquor, Lime Juice, Grenadine and Egg White.
This aristocratic cocktail is inspired by The Montenotte Hotel’s backstory as a luxurious residence of one of Cork’s Merchant Princes. My friend, preferring the classics, opted for an Old Fashioned.
Despite some rain, it was quite a lovely evening with a fresh breeze blowing and the nighttime views of Cork city were stunning, with the hotel overlooking the train station and city centre.
I’ve always had a fondness for Cork, especially after spending my college years here, but I feel as if I’ve never appreciated it as much as I did sitting there sipping my cocktail.
Watching the city come to life one flickering light at a time is something truly magnificent to behold.
The next morning, we make our way back to the Panorama Bistro & Terrace, which has been transformed from an atmospheric dining area to a bright, airy place to start your morning.
While there is a small selection of dishes available from a kitchen menu, the warm day called for fresh fruit and smoothies, while my friend opted for a breakfast fry-up.
Sitting by the window, we have a perfect view of the city and after eating, we venture out onto the terrace one last time in a bid to commit the stunning view to memory.
For a weekend that seemed as if it was going to be incredibly wet and miserable, we were pretty lucky getting to experience the view in the sun, though I am positive this view of Cork city would be marvellous under any weather situation.
Prices for a night’s stay at The Montenotte Hotel, including dinner and breakfast, start at €219 for two people.
The Montenotte Hotel,
Sarah has always had a great love of travel, food and photography. Following her journalism degree at DCU, she developed a passion for travel writing while living in Spain.
Sarah loves exploring new places and sampling the local cuisine. Working with TheTaste.ie combines her love of food and travel.